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Breaking down the Cy

Another great start by Adam Wainwright has thrust him front and center into the NL Cy Young discussion. Just think of where he’d be if not for a relatively rough start to the season. In April, despite having just a 2.76 ERA, Wainwright walked 18 in 29.1 innings. Many of us were trying to figure out what the hell was wrong w/ him and how effective he’d be. At the same time, Carp went on the DL w/ a side injury and our rotation didn’t look near as potent as it appears right now.


Despite Wainwright’s April control problems, May and June were actually his worst months. His walk rate fell considerably but he gave up 11 homers in just 75.2 innings in those 2 months. His May ERA was 3.80 and his June ERA was 3.82 – not horrendous by any stretch but still a far cry from how he’s pitched over the last 2 months. In July and August, Wainer’s thrown 82 innings and has given up exactly 3 homers. He walked 13 in 46.1 innings in July and has walked exactly 1 in August – Manny Ramirez in the 5th inning on the 19th. Wainwright’s ERA was 1.17 in July and 1.26 in August. His OPS against was .581 in July and .566 in August.

Wainwright leads the NL in wins and innings pitched. He’s 4th in ERA at 2.50. Of course, Carp’s 1st in ERA and will attempt to tie Wainwright for the league lead in wins this afternoon. He’s 5th in the NL in Ks and 7th in RAR. Let’s look at the major contenders for the Cy as we head toward the final month of the season.

Carpenter 14-3 2.16 145.2 7 111 2.77 38.8 2.54
Cain 12-4 2.39 177.1 17 133 3.90 28.5 4.12
Lincecum 12-4 2.43 185.1 8 214 2.23 61.4 2.56
Wainwright 15-7 2.50 187.0 15 157 3.35 38.2 3.58
Haren 12-8 2.73 181.0 22 173 3.27 43.1 3.35
Johnson 12-3 2.99 165.2 12 142 3.15 37.3 3.61
Vazquez 10-9 3.14 169 17 186 2.85 44.8 3.29
Jimenez 12-9 3.36 174.1 9 154 3.27 44.4 3.19

In looking over these numbers, the first thing I notice is that Joel Pineiro’s going to get screwed in the Cy Young voting. He ought to be in this group but w/ Carp and Wainwright having such outstanding years, Pineiro’s not going to get many votes at all. They’re bigger names w/ more wins and Pineiro’s fantastic season is going to be relatively unnoticed by the voters.

Next – forget about Vazquez or Johnson. They’re not going to make the playoffs, Vazquez has always been underappreciated and no one knows who Josh Johnson is. Jimenez and Haren won’t have much of a chance either. Haren’s team is awful and Jimenez’s ERA is too high. Of course, he plays for the Rockies and his numbers are fantastic. Plus, no one knows who he is. These 4 will deserve a better fate.

Some have complained that Wainwright and Carpenter may take votes away from one another. Is it possible that Cain takes some votes from Lincecum? Probably not but some will see Cain’s ERA as being lower than Wainwright (if it remains lower) and Cain’s number of innings pitched as being higher than Carp’s and put Cain too high on their ballot. I think it’s pretty clear right now that Lincecum is the favorite. If he’s not, he should be. There are only 2 things holding Lincecum back right now and both are stupid reasons not to vote for him. The first is that he has 3 fewer wins than Wainwright (and hopefully Carp after today) and the second is that the Giants are not likely to make the playoffs. Neither of those is Lincecum’s fault. He’s the best pitcher in the NL and, if the season ended today, deserves the Cy Young.

That said, Carp and Wainwright are probably both in the top 3-4 right now. Carp’s held back by the fact that he missed about 6 weeks worth of starts earlier in the season and Wainwright’s numbers just aren’t quite as good as Lincecum’s. Hopefully, he can continue pitching the way he’s pitched over the last 2 months and force some voters to put him above Lincecum on the ballot.